Irving isn't LeBron James, but he may have a little bit of Chris Paul in his game. That was enough for the Cavs to deem him the King of this rebuilding process, and it's not hard to see why. Incumbent Baron Davis is a pricey (two years, $28.7 million left on his contract) and unreliable veteran, and Ramon Sessions isn't the answer either. The unselfish Irving has fantastic court vision and is an able passer and a good shooter. He's hardly the most spectacular No. 1 pick we've seen, but the Cavs are now confident they have their floor leader for a generation to come.
There are plenty of executives around the league who believe Williams is the best player in the draft. He is an explosive athlete with a dangerous inside-out game, and the rare prospect in this draft whom many talent evaluators can see eventually becoming an All-Star. But his game is also often compared to that of Minnesota's Michael Beasley, meaning the Wolves will have some decisions to make now regarding the makeup of their frontcourt.
The Jazz were torn on this pick and looked to be leaning toward Kentucky point guard Brandon Knight for weeks. But sources close to the team said general manager Kevin O'Connor eventually led the turn to Kanter, who won out over the desire to find a replacement for veteran point guard Devin Harris. Kanter is a physical two-way player who is expected to be a solid pro for years.
Thompson shot up the draft boards in the last 48 hours, with his motor and desire to improve resonating with a Cavs team that wants to add impact players now. He can score, rebound and defend. In other words, he's the poster boy for this draft: not sexy as a player but effective and looking at a long career. The Cavs were slated to take Lithuanian big man Jonas Valanciunas here, but his sticky buyout situation with his overseas team clearly scared them away. Valanciunas might not be able to play in the NBA next season because of the contract.
President and GM Bryan Colangelo nails the half-court shot here, as Valanciunas became the apple of almost every lottery team's eye in recent days. He might not be available to join the Raptors next season, but he can man the middle for Toronto for a decade to come thereafter. He's a skilled and efficient scorer who can still fill out his 19-year-old frame.
The Wizards get their man in Vesely, an explosive and dynamic talent who has drawn comparisons to Andrei Kirilenko. This was the worst-kept secret of the draft, with Washington hoping all along Vesely would be there. He can run with the franchise's centerpiece, point guard John Wall, and trade alley-oops with the likes of center JaVale McGee.
The Kings picked for Charlotte here, per the three-team deal that also involved Milwaukee. The Bobcats fill their greatest need by adding this ferocious rebounder and defender, and the Congolese big man will likely be a fan favorite. He is incredibly athletic, long and plays hard. One significant disclaimer: He has no offensive game. None. Obviously not a concern for Charlotte.
The Pistons wanted to go big, with prospects like Biyombo and Thompson high on their board. But Knight wasn't expected to fall and president Joe Dumars quickly jumped at the chance to add him to his backcourt. Knight's presence will allow Rodney Stuckey to play off the ball like he should (assuming the restricted free agent returns). Dumars was believed to be considering Connecticut point guard Kemba Walker in this sort of scenario, but was able to nab Knight instead.
The Bobcats addressed their rebounding need with the Biyombo pick, and now they get the offensive punch they coveted by taking Walker. Here's the cherry on top for Michael Jordan & Co.: He can defend, and distribute, and lead. While Charlotte already has a diminutive point guard in D.J. Augustin, it won't be long before Walker takes the reins.
The Kings came very close to leaving Sacramento just a few months ago, and they now need to energize the fan base in ways that not only sell tickets but also lead to a long-overdue arena deal. That's the business appeal of drafting Fredette. As for basketball, he will be given a chance to not only score but also play a more conventional point guard role. His defense is very suspect, though, and it remains to be seen how he'll fit with third-year guard Tyreke Evans. This could have implications in free agency, as restricted free agent Marcus Thornton was expected to return but might reconsider now.
GM Larry Riley called Thompson the best shooter in the draft behind Fredette. He will stretch the floor and be an instant rotation player on a team that might not have shooting guard Monta Ellis by the time next season (or next week) rolls around. Thompson averaged 21.6 points last season. They still badly need defensive help and will have to improve on that end via free agency or trades.
The Jazz said all along they would take a big man with one lottery pick and a perimeter player with the other. And while this isn't quite the Kanter-Fredette combo I saw as a strong possibility, Burks is an explosive athlete and underdog of this draft who might very well wind up being a better player than the BYU star. He's a slasher and poor defender, though, and his ability to improve his jump shot will be key.
A year after the Suns downgraded from Amar'e Stoudemire to Hakim Warrick at power forward, they get a chance to upgrade with Morris. He's a rugged defender/rebounder and capable scorer who can play some center as well. Channing Frye could eventually move back to the bench if Morris develops quickly.
The Rockets passed up a chance to land the center they so badly need -- they could've opted for USC 7-footer Nikola Vucevic. In Morris (who goes one pick after his twin brother), they get a versatile scorer who can play small forward and power forward. He should be a solid pro, but I'm surprised.
Leonard is going to San Antonio in a trade that will bring guard George Hill to the Pacers. That's quite the pickup for the Pacers. Hill is only 25 and has averaged 12 points a game over the last two seasons. Leonard is one of the few reliable two-way players in this draft, a dedicated and lengthy defender who can play a mean up-tempo game as well. If he can develop into a consistent shooter, he will be a very good pro.
There wasn't much size in the draft, and Vucevic can provide that and much more for a team that was relying on Spencer Hawes at the center spot. Vucevic is a physical and solid player who measured out as the biggest prospect of this class. His improved post game and mid-range game played a big part in his rise, too.
The Knicks gave their fans reason to groan in passing on Florida State defensive specialist Chris Singleton to grab Shumpert. He's a defense-first player as well -- one who is a phenomenal athlete and dangerous scorer -- but he wasn't considered a first-round pick by a lot of teams. Time will tell, of course.
The Wizards have done well for themselves, grabbing the young and exciting offensive player in Vesely at No. 6 and the defensive stopper in Singleton here. The versatile player who can guard multiple positions was projected as a possible lottery pick.
Harris will have time to develop now that he's behind new Bucks small forward Stephen Jackson. He is a versatile, coachable and capable talent who could have gone in the early teens.
A league source confirmed reports that the Timberwolves will be sending Motiejunas and point guard Jonny Flynn to Houston for veteran center Brad Miller, the No. 23 pick (more on that later) and a future first-round pick. Motiejunas is an intriguing, versatile scorer who was considered a likely lottery pick in previous years. His motor, attitude and dedication have been questioned, though, so there's a risk factor.
Smith is a safe pick here, and it appears he'll be backing up Raymond Felton as opposed to Andre Miller. A league source confirmed that Denver and Portland have agreed to swap point guards. Portland has also acquired the No. 26 pick from Dallas, which it will then send to the Nuggets. The Mavericks will get Portland shooting guard Rudy Fernandez in the deal, as well as the rights to Finnish combo guard Petteri Koponen.
Faried wasn't supposed to get past the Blazers, but the Nuggets had to be thrilled to get the rugged rebounder whose one-dimensional skill-set should translate well at the next level. He could help fill the void at power forward if Kenyon Martin departs as a free agent.
Houston is dealing this pick to Minnesota in the Jonny Flynn trade. The Timberwolves are then sending it to Chicago for the 28th and 43rd picks. Nobody had more freedom to invest in a future talent than the Bulls, who have their core in place and would prefer to not add another guaranteed salary. They couldn't have done much better than Mirotic, whom some scouts say is All-Star material. He won't likely play in the NBA for at least three years because of his overseas contract, but it's a low-risk, high-reward pick.
Numerous executives speculated before the draft that the Thunder had given a promise to Jackson, whose camp refused all workouts and made it known that the point guard already had an NBA home somewhere. Jackson joins a team that already has two young point guards in Russell Westbrook, who is due a big payday soon, and Eric Maynor, who has a rookie-scale contract that runs two more years (including a $2.3 million team option for 2012-13).
The Celtics are shipping this pick to the Nets for the 27th pick and a second-round pick. Brooks is an outstanding scorer who can create his own offense. He'll have to improve his defense to earn big minutes under coach Avery Johnson.
Hamilton will give the Nuggets another scorer on the wing to go with Danilo Gallinari and perhaps Wilson Chandler, a restricted free agent.
The Nets are picking Johnson for the Celtics, who dealt the 25th pick to New Jersey. Johnson, who could stand to get stronger, might have a chance to contribute immediately to a Celtics team that is thin up front.
The Heat have jumped into the first round by acquiring this pick. Cole, an offensive-minded, quick point guard, could end up competing with restricted free agent Mario Chalmers at the position.
With third guard George Hill headed to Indiana, the Spurs are restocking the backcourt with Joseph. He's something of a tweener -- not unlike Hill, the 26th pick in 2008 who blossomed into a solid player under Gregg Popovich.